Japan Adds Gundam Manhole Covers in Odawara

Gundam and Pokemon fans will be happy.

By Jo Craig

August 5, 2021

Japan is unique in many ways and the country’s creativity is never muted. Leaning into its signature properties, video games and anime, everyday life in Japan is somewhat influenced by these genres, which in turn colors its culture. Food, attractions and one-of-a-kind exhibits contribute to Japan’s magnificent showcase and manhole covers are no exception.

Manhole covers normally blend into the industrial wallpaper of the outside world, usually going unnoticed unless a jet of water or a Ninja Turtle is poking out of it. But Japan has opted to turn these bland discs into works of art, with the country already presenting Studio Ghibli-themed covers, designed by Hayao Miyazaki, as well as Pokemon-themed variants. The next franchise to be added to the catalogue is Gundam, brought about by a new project in Odawara.

Gundam Evolution Trailer

Gundam Evolution Trailer

Gundam Manhole Project

Japan’s first collection of Gundam-themed manhole covers have been installed in the city of Odawara, within the Kanagawa prefecture. As part of the new Gundam Manhole Project, the first set of covers have been installed here because it is the birthplace of Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino. Despite starting locally for now, the project plans to install a lot more Gundam-themed manhole covers nationwide, which will feature a different mecha on each one posing with local landmarks.

Odawara currently has two Gundam manhole covers installed: one features the iconic RX-78-2 Gundam designed with Odawara Castle in the background and it can be found on Daiyagai shopping street. The second one shows the MSM-07S Z’Gok with a fish in its hand, located at the Odawara Fishery Harbour.

The manhole covers were made by the Bandai Namco Group in collaboration with the Gundam Manhole Project. In order to promote the installation, the Japanese government made 10,000 cards with descriptions and location details of each cover. These will be distributed at the Odawara Visitor Center on August 27.

Bandai Spirits

Pokemon Manhole Covers

The Gundam Manhole Project is expected to follow in the steps of the nationwide catalogue of Pokemon-themed manhole covers called Poke Lids. With such a large collection of Pokemon designs gracing the discs, the country created a website for locals and tourists to track, visit and collect each one. The colorful designs have become a tourist attraction within the country, which inspire various colleges of the covers to be posted online.

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Jo Craig

Being a pop culture writer and a proud geek of all trades, Jo loves to dissect fandoms and marvel at their insides. The entirety of The Lord of the Rings, superhero origins, the Ghost of Tsushima score, the Wings of Freedom, and the endless search for a sleepy Tyranitar are but a few of Jo's passions, with a penchant for contributing to the geek culture community.

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